FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2020
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Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Ensuring Workers’ Compensation Eligibility for Frontline COVID-19-Response Workers
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-125, which clarifies Workers’ Disability Compensation Act (WDCA) eligibility during the COVID-19 emergency, replacing emergency rules issued by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity in March 2020. Under this executive order, individuals who work within the secured borders of a penal institution, including correctional officers, medical staff, and cafeteria staff who serve prisoners will be presumptively entitled to worker’s compensation if they suffer a personal injury as a result of COVID-19.
“The men and women who work at correctional facilities across our state should be able to report for work knowing they will be covered under Michigan’s Workers’ Disability Compensation Act if they are injured or disabled as a result of COVID-19, and this executive order ensures they are eligible for that much-needed coverage,” Governor Whitmer said. “The real heroes of this crisis are the medical workers, first responders, and other essential workers — like correctional officers — who are putting their lives on the line for us every day. We must all continue to do our part to protect them and their families.”
The WDCA affords important protections to Michigan’s workers and employers. Under normal circumstances, employees seeking entitlement to wage-loss benefits are required to demonstrate, in part, the existence of a work-related injury that prevents the employee from performing his or her job duties. Due to the possibility of asymptomatic transfer of COVID-19, requiring a worker on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic to demonstrate they contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment unfairly shifts risk to the worker and may hinder Michigan’s emergency response by undermining confidence in the worker’s compensation system among the most critical members of the workforce.
Under Executive Order 2020-125, a COVID-19-response worker who is confirmed as COVID-19 positive on or after March 18, 2020, either by physician or by test, shall be presumed to have suffered a “personal injury,” as defined by the WDCA.
This order is effective immediately and shall remain in effect during the declared states of emergency and disaster.
To view Executive Order 2020-125, click the link below: